Valuing Joel Pineiro: What Will the Cardinals Pitcher Garner on the Open Market?

Josh LevittSenior Analyst ISeptember 29, 2009

JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 20:  Pitcher Joel Pineiro #35 of the St. Louis Cardinals poses during photo day at Roger Dean Stadium on February 20, 2009 in Jupiter, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

What kind of contract will Joel Pineiro get on the open market? The great Jon Heyman took a stab at that very question yesterday with this prediction:

"Pineiro, two years, $15 million."

This prediction is interesting to me because it's far lower than my prediction for Pineiro a week back of four years/$40 million. Either I really like Pineiro or Heyman really dislikes Pineiro. Or maybe the market just sucks.

But nevertheless, here's my reasoning for the four years/$40 million prediction:

1. He's young (just turned 31).

2. Fantastic 2009 season.

Does anyone realize just how good Pineiro has been this season? According to FanGraphs:

* Pineiro has been worth $23.8 million this year

* 5.3 WAR

* First in BB/9 (1.1)

* First in HR/9 (.3)

* First in ground ball percentage (61.4 percent)

* Third in line drive percentage (15.6 percent)

* Ninth in WHIP (1.13)

* 15 wins

3. Pineiro is one of the best free agent pitchers on the market.

Seriously. Here is my top five:

1. John Lackey

2. Joel Pineiro

3. Randy Wolf

4. Rich Harden

5. Jason Marquis

It's hard to argue that Pineiro is not the second best pitcher on the market right now. He's one of the youngest quality free agent pitchers on the market and is coming off a season where he dominated the National League.

I know Pineiro's history isn't the greatest, but can anyone honestly see teams letting Pineiro get away signing a two-year, $15 million contract? I doubt it.

If the market falls to the point where Pineiro is settling on two years/$15 million, then the other free agents in this class are going to have a very rough time.

Thoughts? What kind of deal will Pineiro receive?

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